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					Online Writing Centers:
   Outgrowing the OWL

 David Bringhurst
 Director, University Writing Center
 Wright State University
A Quick Survey of Ohio’s OWLs

n   Youngstown State University
n   University of Toledo
n   Wright State University
n   Ohio University (MOO)
    q   MUD, Object Oriented
    q   Multiple User Dimension
n   Edison Community College
Noteworthy sites outside the state

n   Purdue University
    q   Great self-help resources
    q   Asynchronous text submission
n   Colorado State University
    q   Workshop atmosphere
What’s behind the sites?

n   Many were custom-built by school’s Writing
    Center or IT department.
n   Others employ commercially available
    software or services as part of a hybrid
    solution or even as a total solution.
Software solutions

n   Blackboard (U. of Louisville)
    q   Robust, enterprise-level suite
    q   Real-time text chat
    q   File sharing
    q   Virtual white board
Software solutions, cont’d

n   iLinc (National University, CA)
    q   MeetingLinc
        n   Audio/video conferencing
        n   Interactive whiteboard
        n   Synchronized web browsing
        n   Tutor controls when student can talk
    q   LearnLinc (also available)
        n   More features than MeetingLinc
        n   Designed for corporate training needs
Software solutions, cont’d

n   Skype (Lansing Community College)
    q   Free telephony
    q   File transfer
    q   Chat
    q   Video conferencing
    q   Stopped using because of Spyware concerns
    q   Now use Angel
Commercial tutoring services

n   The quick Google search
n   Smarthinking
    q   Based in Washington, D.C.
    q   Ohio Learning Network (OLN) contracts with them
    q   What impact will this have on us?
Current state of the OWL

n   Asynchronous text submission combined with
    self-help resources
n   Increasing use of text chat, whiteboard, some
What does the future hold?

n   Moving away from drop-off lab to . . .
n   . . . Interactive tutoring
n   Using voice & video along with whiteboard
    technology to more closely achieve the type
    of face-to-face (f2f) sessions we have in our
Barriers to achieving f2f tutoring online

n   Funding / Staffing
n   Limited availability of necessary technologies
    for students
    q   Broadband access
    q   Camera for the PC
    q   Primary effect on students with financial need
n   . . . But the gap is closing
    q   Technology becoming more affordable
    q   More acceptance of technology as “how things get
Questions for Discussion

n   Do you agree with this assessment?
n   What is the impact of commercial tutoring on
    our profession?
n   Can we each create f2f online writing
n   Should we pursue the creation of a shared
    online writing center?
n   Is it feasible procedurally? Financially?

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